June 08, 2005

*Ask Jen: Filibuster Edition

Reader Amanda writes, "Can you please tell me the origins of the term filibuster?"

The word evolved, as many terms do, from other languages and meanings. The Dutch used the word vrijbuiter, or "freebooter" to label pirates. The Spanish adopted the term, changing it to filibustero. It came to be applied to revolutionaries trying to stir up trouble in Spanish colonies. One of their tactics was to speak incessantly in partisan rhetoric. Little wonder, then, that the term came to be applied to politicians who pirated debate with their partisan rhetoric.

Do you have a question for me? You can e-mail it. If I know the answer, I'll answer it. If I don't, I might make something up.

Posted by Jennifer at June 8, 2005 04:11 PM


Odd, I always thought it was from "filly buster" - to ride a horse until it was broken for saddle.

Posted by: Harvey at June 9, 2005 10:31 AM